Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cancer Survivor Hitting The 5 Year Mark 4/27/14=Cancer Thriver

My blog was started and is really about beauty in life and in products and of course I have spent 25 years in the beauty industry but that  is just a small sample of the years I have been a beauty bug. I was a really small girl when I realized I love all things beauty. This post is about beauty too, but more personal and the essence of beauty ....being alive!

Today I share a small peek into my own life & how rich it feels to reach this 5 year mark after a cancer diagnosis! It's just a little bit about the journey I went thru & the immediate impact hearing those words - "The tests came back positive & you have cancer".

Just a short few years ago, I was driving with my friend and colleague to a meeting downtown with a beauty company. Cheryl and I were beauty warriors in business together and she was more than a colleague she was my dear friend. As is stands I have no doubt God put me in her presence when I heard those words that morning while at work, she was a great person for me to be with that day.

It was an early Monday morning, I just had a romantic anniversary weekend with my husband of 17 years at the time. We spent the night in a romantic Chicago hotel, had a yummy dinner & just enjoyed our celebration weekend. So I would say there was a smile on my face that morning as I drove down the high way, the way a lingering vacation stays with you, you are just moving thru life at a slightly different pace.

I missed a call and thought perhaps it was the folks we were meeting that morning. So as I retrieved the message, I heard my new doctors voice - she left a message that indeed the biopsy we took just 4 days before was cancerous and we had to remove the tumor.

Emergency landing, I pulled over and asked Cheryl to drive to the city. I had to hear that again. Certainly I was hoping I heard it wrong. (And I am sure for Cheryl it was hard to be with me at that moment. and the beauty warriors we are we went to the meeting like we never heard that message!)

And then I made the call to the doc.

She is an amazing doctor, super smart with terrific chair side manner & a beauty on top of it!

(A dangerous combination & that combination = patient loyalty in my book!).

Dr. Dina Elaraj practices medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. And she explained we needed to schedule surgery to remove the tumor. I think I was in shock looking back, scared of course to hear those words.

What does that mean for my life, for my family? And as I thought of Jojo and our young sons, I wondered what impact would it have on them. How do you keep a brave front so you don't burden them with those concerns, fears etc.

My life was so full, this darling little nuclear family, husband, 2 beautiful sons who I adored, a great dog, life in the burbs, wonderful friendships and extended family,  a career I loved and was passionate about, ....everything I ever wanted....all of these things you treasure flood over you, you don't want to think of losing any of them. As soon as I heard cancer diagnosis........ lots of weird & flooding noise rattling around in my head. I knew I had to get past these self limiting conversations in my head.

I started recalling the few days before when I met with Dr Elaraj for the first time. I knew the tumor was growing despite the fact that I had been checking it for a few years. So when I first met her days before to check it out, she said "we are going to biopsy it today". I responded with: "oh no need for that, I have had it biopsied twice and the results were fine". (.... I know, I know... dumb!) She was assertive so I just went along with the in-office procedure (mind you I was not mentally prepared to be biopsied!) and obviously now so glad I did. I can be a stubborn.... patient ;-)

When you go thru the initial shock, you move into ACTION mode. And if you know me I am researching everything. I was on more medical journal sites across the world and learning as much as I could.
Including, second opinions, and how much Radio Active Iodine (The Gold Standard of the type of cancer I had.....and part of the post surgery treatment plan.)

The RAI (Radio Active Iodine/Nuclear Medicine) you have to go into the hospital and be isolated for a period of a few days and then you are released to your home, where you are isolated from your family in a room for the remainder of 7 days.

In my experience, the hospital I was at was near my home, its a special room. A man comes in with a special hazmat suit on protecting him from the poison that was my "life saving" formula. He opens a metal box and inside was a large pill, he has you remove it, gives you a glass of water and instructs you to swallow it and then he snaps the box shut, turns on his heels and bee lines it out of the room!) You are completely alone with your thoughts for what seems like a very long time. Trust me its nothing compared to what fellow cancer warriors go thru with Chemo and Radiation.

Surgery. Check
Send pathology slides to Sloan Kettering in NYC for second opinion on staging and follow-up treatment. Check
Post Surgery treatment. Radio Active Iodine. Check
Annual Body Scans. Check.

Secretly, I was praying thru all of that to get to the 5 year mark. "Let me make it to 5 year mark". Never ever did I think I would want 5 years to pass quickly ;-)

Your survival rates increase so anyone with a cancer diagnosis probably longs for the opportunity to make it to that mark. (And hopefully mindfully living in the moment. so you can soak in every nano second).

This weekend (Sunday 4.27.14) I made it to the 5 year mark! Holy cow! Soaking it all in. So.... so thoroughly grateful. and so much to be grateful for. It is not lost on me how many people do not make it to the 5 year mark, they don't make it to the finish line & I know I am lucky. (My dear friend Maureen said to me to remind me of the hope and promise of the future: "we are lucky people" so I adopted this phrase & made it my mantra.)

So many people to thank for their loving support during the diagnosis phase & after. Those that leant an ear to let pour out my fears, not judging or trying to soothe me but just acknowledging the fact that I had them.

The dinners people so generously made for my family both during the surgery week and again when I went thru the TOTAL ISOLATION period and couldn't cook for my family or touch anything, the special chili that Megan made still lingers on my mind 5 years later, and she included the recipe (which I could never re-create, it was the best chili ever tasted)! Kim sent delish treats that nourished us and delivered from Moveable Feasts in Geneva, Il.

My family for their loving kindness. The amazing flowers that were sent. (Amanda I took a picture of that arrangement it was the biggest ever and I had to find a special place to put them!)

Probably so much more to say that I am forgetting but I trust you know that you left your thumbprint on my heart for supporting & cheering me on!

And today I get to toast you all for your support helping me reaching this goal...if I can quote Emma Stone last night on Jimmy Fallon:

"Darling, you must come over for a restorative glass of champagne". Celebrating!

When you have cancer you feel as tho its another one of your badges you wear.... much like a girl (or boy) scout might have....mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, SpaQueen, beauty expert, cancer survivor...today I am a cancer thriver.

Total Game Changer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beauty Maintenance - Getting Lifted

Hi Loves! I'm soooo needing a bit of sprucing up, maybe its because spring might actually be here and  that feeling of everything needing to be refreshed in the house, out of the house...suddenly everything looks tired including me! I've decided I needed some serious face attention! (It could be that this weekend is my 22nd wedding anniversary & feeling nostalgic looking back on wedding photos remembering when my eyes were a bit higher on my face-seriously when did that happen?)

I went to see Renee, aka the Brow Queen and resident licensed esthetician at Salon Estem located in downtown Glen Ellyn to help give my face a bit of a lift. (Shhh...boy does she have some tricks up her sleeve. I tell you the before picture is sans any beauty products so there it is.... all natural...no makeup if you know me this is an issue, I don't get the mail without makeup on ;-)
What can I say??? 25 years in the beauty business has left a lasting impression on me!

Yikes like one of those tabloid pix caught without makeup

Renee recommended a couple of things to address my concerns about everything dropping on my face and the fact that my brows could be shaped and tinted to give more definition to framing my eyes & ultimately giving more balance to the face. She also provided a treatment by NuFace which is a micro current that stimulates & lifts the muscle. Much like Pilate's for the face. It was a technology first discovered when treating individuals with Bells Palsy. And its the only FDA approved equipment which can be used in the privacy of your own home! It lasts for 72 hours in one treatment so for a special event (wedding, class reunion, special date) its a must. (However~ you can continue these benefits and improving the skin by owning one! and doing the treatment every couple of days while you are watching TV.)

After Lash and Brow Tint
Before Lash and Brow Tint


In addition to being the Brow Queen, she wields a pretty amazing air gun! Creating a sun drenched glow with her customized tanning product, you do not have to go thru winter being pasty! Highly recommend this service. PRO Tips: remember wear an old bikini and dark clothing that you would not care if you got a bit of product on to wear home and exfoliate and shave the day before the appointment, AND do not do this the day of your wedding or special event!)

I sat with Renee to ask her a few beauty tips for my readers.

BC: Renee, What do you clients love about their services with you?

R: My clients are like most people wanting to have some relaxation time yet have a results oriented skincare treatment, I am known for striving to give them more than they expect or came in for, always making sure to spending more time on their massage or if their skin needs extra boost customizing their masque with special enhancements.

BC: You are known for your brows! I have had someone ask me if you do my brows before. What's so special about your technique?

R: I use a specialty wax which is much gentler on the skin to start with, and I truly groom the brows for the individuals bone structure to make sure its the best shape for their face, I always give them tips on how to maintain at home & frequently recommend tinting them, especially wonderful for warmer months when hair color can get washed out due to the sun exposure. I also recommend tinting eyelashes for much of the same reason, and often women want to go with out mascara so they can swim and enjoy the outdoors in our shorter summer season. (EDITORS NOTE: Never mind just looking amazing when you wake up in the morning!)

BC: If I could only have 2 products in my beauty arsenal, what would you recommend?

R: The product hands down that I cannot live without is our time released Retinol Resurfacing Nighttime Complex, its going to deliver gentle resurfacing without any redness, ,dryness and irritation typically associated with a vitamin A product. its the number one skincare treatment sold here at Salon Estem. (BEAUTY EDITORS NOTE: retinols are proven methods for stimulating collagen, thickening the skin and turning cell over...as we age cells get sluggish and turn over much slower resulting in dry, dehydrated dull conditions)
 And our Radiance Boost Toner used daily this will perfect your skin, leaving it luminous and makeup looking flawless throughout the day.

BC: What is the best cycle to come in for facials, it is once a year or twice a year?? or weekly? (that would be my choice!)

R: If there are not any corrective conditions such as rosacea or acne, roughness, hyper pigmentation, then I recommend every 6 weeks to keep the skin looking optimal. By keeping a regular routine, we keep the skin in perfect health, we are going to work on keeping pores clear, and refined, (especially important as one gets into the peri menopause and menopause age because our hormones also affect our skin & the size of our pores gets larger as we age) but also to stimulate the muscles, lifting and contouring the skin, making sure that we relax the face so that stress doesn't show up - which can be quite aging. It's not only relaxing but we do a wonderful facial treatment including a cleansing massage, analyze the skin, talk about the current care and what the concerns are and build a proper plan around the conditions present. We provide a deep exfoliation-this helps whisk away build up and milia (EDITORS NOTE: those little hard white seedy looking things that you can not squeeze to remove yourself! Believe me, I have tried!) that can show up on the skin, and rejuvenating massage that will leave you looking and feeling better ( most people get an amazing nap!) followed by a customized mask and appropriate eye care, serum and moisturizer.

BC: I heard of a group of girls planning a STAYCATION over spring break, they couldn't get away due to various schedules, so they planned a night at one house, everyone showed up with a themed dinner component and most wore vacation type clothes, including sporting a self tan service! That's one way of bringing the vacation to you! Tell me about the sun service you offer at Salon Estem & any tips you have for someone considering this service.

R: Considering our short summers here, why not have this year round? At least you can look someone glowing in winter :-)
Our self tan service its very effective, and gives a boost of confidence because you look better right away. Its perfect before a special event where you might be showing more skin is strapless dress.

Here's a snapshot of Renee, she is amazing with her hands! I love her massage and I am so happy with my brows being shaped and tinted! She's pure magic!

Renee, LE

This is me after she got her hands on me! Notice the difference in the jawline and brows from the NuFace~

Let Renee get you gorgeous, simply mention The Beauty Curators Blogpost and you can receive 10% off any service with Renee thru the end of May.You can make an appointment by calling 630.534.4555
Pricing Brow wax $20, Brow Tint $10, Lash Tint $15, Nu Face Current only without a facial $60 and a spray tan $43, you can actually shower as early as 2 hours after this service.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quick Spring Tips for Shedding Excess Dry Winter Skin & Refreshing 2 Day Cleanse for Your Body

Finally! Finally it's feeling like we can shed our winter coats and opt for something a bit lighter.

Of course this feels like renewal in every sense, from freshening up the house with flowers, cleaning closets, putting away winter heavy garb and bringing out the lighter linens, brighter colored clothing.

The same is true for our skin, with the cold temps and the indoor heating we tend to be very dehydrated internally and externally. Dry, flaky skin every time you take your tights off is a hint its time to exfoliate! I'm sharing some tried and true methods for revitalizing your skin in the privacy of your own home! I will also include a 2 day healthy diet to revitalize your skin & done together you will be energized and nourished inside and out!

What you will need for your spa treatments:
Almond or Olive Oil
1 c. Sea Salts
3 cups of Epsom salt
Rose or Lavender Essential Oils
Greek Yogurt
Dry Brush
Organic Body Cream

Tip: Prepare a cup of warm green tea for you to enjoy while soaking

Preparation: Combine in one bowl Sea Salts ( you can obtain these from your health food store), 1 cup and 1/2 cup of almond oil (olive oil can be used also) mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 c of Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp. of honey.

Begin by drawing a bath, add the Epsom salts and 10 drops of rose essential oils to the bath. Fill it as high as you can to cover your shoulders ( if you are fortunate to have a Japanese Tub I am so envious!! its on my bucket list )

1. Pull your hair back with a headband & Pull your hair up into a pony tail.

Put out a towel on your bathroom floor, Dry brush thoroughly increasing circulation working from your heels towards your heart. Using circular motion, work the from the soles, upwards, making sure to get the legs front and back. When you get to the stomach work clockwise in circular motion and the same around the chest. With the arms sweep from hands toward the underarm. This should take a good 5 minutes, you'll most likely be light pink from increasing circulation which is what  you want.

Here are some great options for dry brushes, and doing daily or every other day helps to combat cellulite by increasing circulation!

Continue to stay on the towel near your tub, and then begin to add the sea salt scrub in light motion working from the lower leg upwards again towards the heart and avoiding the bottom of your feet (so you don't have oil on your feet avoiding the risk of slipping!) Working on your arms in the same fashion, give the entire body a good scrub using the sea salts. Do Not Remove.

Put the small bowl containing your yogurt mask near your tub for easy access.

2. Now get into the tub carefully, and relax, the sea salts will remove from your with the water. Remember the tub will be slippery so be careful.

3. Next, on clean skin apply the yogurt honey mask to your face and throat, avoiding the eye area. This will stay on for the length of time of your Tub. I recommend soaking for 15-20 minutes, you will feel very relaxed. So its ideal to do this at night before sleep. You will have a restful night for sure.

After your soak, remove the mask and apply a rich night cream or serum to hydrate the skin, your skin will feel very soft due to the lactic acid naturally occurring in the yogurt which removes dull skin cells, and hydrates the skin with the honey.

Continue to apply a body cream and wear white cotton socks on your feet, this will help keep your skin very healthy avoiding looking like your feet have been in boots for the past 4-5 months! Pedicure season is here ;-)

Now onto nourishing your body ~ Repeat for 2 days

6-6:30 am
Drink 2 cups of water with lemon upon waking. And pace yourself by drinking 2 additional cups every 2.5 hours for a total of 10 cups within the day.

Freshly made juice each morning here is a favorite recipe
handful of kale and spinach mixture
1/4 cucumber
1 small wedge of pineapple
1 small banana
1 small apple
a little crushed ice and 1/4 c filtered water

9am drink 2 cups of water

11am Lunch
Mix dark greens with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper to taste
Grill white fish or salmon with just lemon, seasonings and drizzle a little olive oil

12pm 2 cups of water

2:30 Snack on 3/4 cup of Blueberries, strawberries and melon along with a cup of green tea

4 pm 2 cups of water

6pm Large Green Salad
Mixed Dark greens
Cucumber, tomatoes, Greek feta cheese
Olive Oil and Lemon, salt pepper to dress
Grilled Shrimp - lemon, salt and pepper, brush lightly with Olive Oil
1 small glass of red wine 4 oz

7:30 2 cups of water

Sleep from 10:30-6am

Lovely way to increase your energy, welcome spring and revitalize your spirit!

What are you looking forward to this spring, leave a comment below!